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City continues to meet and confer with Fire Union on proposed operational changes
Last Updated: 6/7/2017
Representatives from the City of Roseville and Roseville Fire Fighters Union (RFF) continue to discuss proposed operational changes within the Fire Department.
The City has received a number of comments regarding the proposed changes, some of which are based on misinformation. We welcome your comments.
In an effort to provide complete information, we thought it important to present the following and answer your questions.
Why are you proposing to go from 4 to 3 staffing levels on fire ladder trucks?
It’s important to note that:
- Community needs have changed, so the response model must adapt—Over the past number of years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of medical response calls we receive. At the same time, our fire suppression calls have remained flat or dropped. As such, we need to change our response model to adapt to community needs.
- Since 2012, fire suppression calls are down 25% per capita, medical response calls are up 6% per capita.
- No staff cuts—The proposed cuts are to overtime, not to firefighter positions.
The City of Roseville is not proposing to reduce the number of firefighters who work for the City, and there will be no reductions in the number of fire engines or ladder trucks.
Under this proposal, the City will still have the same number of firefighters employed. What will change is the number of firefighters on duty: Across the entire city, we will have 2 fewer firefighters on duty under this budget proposal.
This budget proposal will reduce the amount of overtime paid to current firefighters, which also addresses the union’s concern about firefighter fatigue. The City of Roseville is not reducing the number of firefighter positions with these proposed budget changes. In fact, the City is currently hiring 9 new firefighters, and actively recruiting to fill these positions right now.
- The staffing proposal affects only two vehicles—The City currently has eight Engine Companies staffed with three firefighters and two Ladder Companies staffed with four firefighters. The changes will reduce the staffing on the two Ladder Companies to three consistent with staffing of the Engine Companies.
- This model works—Other communities currently operate their ladder companies with three men crews. Those include Rocklin, South Placer, Vacaville, Davis, Lodi, and Redding.
- Helps us address firefighter fatigue—The fourth positions currently assigned to the ladder truck will not be eliminated. Instead they will be re-assigned to cover vacancies within the department due to vacations, sick leave, etc. This will reduce the amount of overtime hours our firefighters work, which helps address the union's concern regarding firefighter fatigue.
- Win-win—It also reduces costs for the city by reducing overtime pay, so it’s a win-win situation for our community.
- Our fire chief believes we can safely implement these changes.
- We’re confident that our Fire Department can implement these changes successfully, as many of our surrounding communities have already done.
Where does public safety rank in the City Council’s priorities?
- Public safety is the City’s No. 1 priority. The City of Roseville and our firefighters are on the same team and we all share the same priority: The safety of our community.
- We all have been at the table and talking together for several months, discussing proposals for how we can change our response model to best serve the community based on changes in the types of service calls.
- 66% of our unrestricted General Fund revenue goes to public safety. We offer our firefighters good salaries and generous benefits because we know our citizens want the best firefighters around working for our City.
- Over the last ten years, even with the recession, we have increased annual spending on the fire department to maintain a consistent per capita spending level as the city's population grew.
- We believe in paying our firefighters well, because we believe our citizens deserve the best firefighters available.
- In fact, in 2015, 31 of the 50 highest-paid employees working for the City were firefighters.
What prompted this change?
How is the Fire Department meeting the needs of our city’s growing population?
- Our fire department was initially organized for fire response, but now it responds primarily to medical calls.
- By optimizing the deployment and staffing of our response units, overall costs can be better managed, with little effect on service levels.
- As stewards of public funds, our residents expect us to refine and adapt how we provide services, so we can best meet the changing needs of our community.
- We’re proud that our Fire Department is working to identify new service-delivery models to live within the budgetary realities of today’s city government.
Why hasn’t the city filled all the firefighter vacancies? We had a large number of firefighters who chose to retire this year. As a result, it is taking some time to get qualified new people on board. As you can imagine, our community wants us to hire the best. Sometimes that means things take a little longer in the hiring process, but it pays dividends when you have the right people in your fire stations. We expect to have our current vacancies filled within the next several months. If "rank-and-file" firefighters are working 100 hours a week because the department’s staffing is low due to retirements, will they still send firefighters to other communities to fight wildland fires this summer?
- Since 2008, the City has opened a new fire station to serve people on the growing west side of Roseville and has increased the Department’s annual budget to be consistent with the city's population growth.
- The City recently installed GPS units on our fire trucks to improve response times. When an emergency call comes in now, the City can send the closest fire unit with the appropriate capabilities, and have the unit take the shortest travel time to the incident.
- Our citywide initial response times are excellent, and we are not proposing anything that would change that.
- Due to retirements, we currently have nine firefighter positions we are actively recruiting for.
Each request for mutual aid is reviewed when it is received based upon a number of criteria, including our expected level of staffing, the potential needs in our community (for example, have there been a number of wildfires in or around our community) and other factors. We will continue to review requests for mutual aid just as we have done in the past. Are you taking input from citizens? Firefighters say you made these cuts without listening…
The volunteer Community Priorities Advisory Committee will meet from July to March to make recommendations to Council on the priorities and levels of service the City provides, not how we provide those services. That’s our staff’s responsibility to figure out how to best meet our community’s expectations.We have heard loudly and clearly from our citizens that they expect us to balance ALL of the City’s needs, including police, fire, libraries, parks, water, etc., and to manage our priorities across the entire City budget. Right now, 66% of the City’s unrestricted General Fund budget is spent on public safety.
We have also heard loudly and clearly from our citizens, over many years, that they expect us to be good stewards of the public’s funds, and they expect us to make the most of them, without sacrificing quality of our services.
We also know that our community expects us to adapt to the pace of change in the world we live in. We believe in being innovative, responsive, and nimble, while preserving our high standards.
By making better use of technology and responding to the changing dynamics of calls received for the fire department, we can make these changes and be well within the guidance we have been given by our citizens.
The firefighters’ union leaders are talking about how emergency call volume has increased 60% over the past five years? How can the city possibly respond to that level of calls with these cuts?
The data provided by the fire union does not support that. The actual increase in call volume is 30 percent. We aren’t talking about cutting the number of firefighters, or the number of fire engines or trucks. In fact we’re only talking about changing the staffing on our two big ladder trucks, while staffing on all of the fire engines will remain unchanged.
The primary source of our calls now are for emergency medical response. We’re exploring new and more effective ways we can respond, so we can better meet the needs of the emergency calls we are receiving, and best serve the needs of our citizens.
I read how much our Roseville firefighters make, and that 31 of the 50 highest paid employees in the City for 2015 are firefighters. How is it that Roseville firefighters can make so much?
Roseville firefighters work an average of ten 24-hour shifts a month, which allows them to pick up additional hours, if they choose, at overtime rates.
Right now, many choose to work additional days, on overtime, which increases their total pay. We pay our firefighters well, and we know our citizens expect the City to have the best firefighters available.
We also know that the changes being discussed, along with the filling of current vacant positions, will allow us to reduce the overtime hours our firefighters work. This should help address the union’s concern about firefighter fatigue. It also reduces costs for the city, so it’s a win-win situation for our community.
How can the city make cuts to the fire department without cutting service, reducing the number of firefighters, reducing the number of fire engines, or increasing response times?
We are not proposing cuts in the number of fire fighters employed in the department. We are proposing a redeployment of existing staff. The changes we are discussing will not reduce the number of firefighters employed or reduce the number of fire trucks. These changes are about better responding to the changing mix of calls we are receiving.
Firefighters say the City is putting public safety at risk / proposing drastic staffing cuts / the City isn’t meeting safe staffing levels / working firefighters too hard.
The changes we are discussing will help us to better align our resources with the types of calls for service we are receiving. There will still be the same number of firefighters employed, just a reduced need for overtime hours to meet necessary crew levels.
These changes will help the City to be better stewards of the public’s funds, and to addresses one of the union’s key concerns about firefighter fatigue, due to lengthy work weeks. Currently, we have nine firefighter positions open for new firefighters the City wants to hire.